Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme - Kea Monitoring

Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme - Kea Monitoring

Zero Invasive Predators is conducting a trial predator removal operation in the Perth River valley in South Westland, which aims to remove all possums, and potentially rats, from 12,000 hectares of rugged back country.

If successful, this trial will provide important information about how 1080 can be used to completely remove predators from a large mainland area.

The Perth River valley is a mountainous area that contains a population of 75-100 kea. Predator removal operations that use 1080 are known to benefit kea populations, but these operations can kill individual kea if they eat toxic bait. With advice from kea experts at the Department of Conservation and the Kea Conservation Trust, ZIP has implemented measures to mitigate the potential risk to kea from the operation, including applying non-toxic cereal baits containing a bird repellent prior to the operation to ‘train’ kea to avoid baits, and distributing a small number of tahr carcasses above the operational area, to attract kea away from toxic baits.

We are also monitoring kea survivorship before, during and after the operation.

Between 12 February and 9 March 2018, 29 kea were fitted with transmitters to monitor their survivorship through the planned 2018 aerial operation. This included 19 adults (12 female and 7 male), and 10 juveniles. In June 2018, one additional adult female kea was fitted with a transmitter, bringing the sample up to 30.

A kea is gently (but securely!) held by a ranger while being fitted with a radio transmitter, Perth River valley March 2018.

The transmitters are fixed to kea in a way that is designed to be relatively secure, while allowing them to move freely and behave naturally.

Monitoring is carried out using the Sky Ranger system, whereby a light aircraft fitted with radio receivers flies over the area and records the location and status of each transmitter.

The results of all of the Sky Ranger monitoring we have completed to date are shown in the table below.

The most recent Sky Ranger monitoring has determined that 13 of the 30 kea are still in the Perth River valley. Seven kea are in undetectable locations (either outside the area or in a location where the transmitter is unable to communicate with the Sky Ranger system), and ten of the remaining transmitters are now in ‘static mode’, indicating that either they have fallen off, or the kea wearing them have died.

Interestingly, two of the kea whose transmitters are in static mode have since been seen on camera, identifiable by their leg bands (pictured below, with leg bands circled in orange – click on the images to enlarge). This confirms that in at least two cases, the static signal represents a dropped transmitter.

One more Sky Ranger flight will be made on the day that toxic bait is applied in the Perth River valley, to confirm the number of kea in the operational area at that time.

Results of kea monitoring in the Perth River valley, May 2018-April 2019. Click on the table to enlarge.

Most of the kea in the Perth River valley have been wearing transmitters for over a year.

They are wild birds, and so we did not expect that all of them would remain in the valley. Other kea monitoring projects have witnessed a similar ratio of birds leaving the area or dropping their transmitters.

We will continue to monitor kea in the valley throughout the predator removal operation, and then through the following breeding season.

In the longer term, we expect that mark-recapture analysis of camera footage of the 55 kea in the valley fitted with leg bands will enable us to build a fuller picture of the outcome for kea in the Perth River valley.

We will continue to report the results of our research on our website.

Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme - February 2019

Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme - February 2019

We are looking forward to progressing our research and development programme of work in the Perth River valley, South Westland, after receiving permission from the Department of Conservation on Monday 18 February to undertake a predator removal operation that seeks to completely remove possums and, potentially, rats, from approximately 12,000 hectares of rugged back-country.

Perth River Valley Work Programme - Information Sheet (Updated January 2019)

Perth River Valley Work Programme - Information Sheet (Updated January 2019)

This information sheet is also available as a printable PDF. Click here to download a copy.

A programme of work is underway in a 12,000 hectare block within the Perth Valley (South Westland) to test and refine an approach to completely remove possums from large areas, and prevent them from re-establishing. The work will also seek to develop this predator management approach for ship rats and stoats. If successful, the approach will have significant beneficial outcomes for native plants and animals.

It could also reduce the need for the repeated use of landscape-scale aerial 1080 to control these predators here and elsewhere in New Zealand, and help pave the way for a predator-free New Zealand.

This work is a collaboration between Zero Invasive Predators Ltd (ZIP), the Department of Conservation (DOC), and Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

Summer employment opportunity: Michael Taylor Conservation Internship

Summer employment opportunity: Michael Taylor Conservation Internship

The Michael Taylor Conservation Internship was established by the Tararua Tramping Club (TTC) in 2017, in memory of Michael Taylor who was a member of the club and passionate about conservation issues. 

During summer 2018-19, TTC and ZIP are jointly funding the Michael Taylor Conservation Internship, in the form of one paid fixed-term placement, based at ZIP’s Predator Behaviour Facility in Lincoln, Canterbury, for a period of 8-10 weeks.

The successful candidate will work alongside ZIP’s Lincoln-based Predator Behaviour Team to test new tools and techniques in the lab and/or in the field.

View the role description.

Read about our team culture.

For more information, please email Susannah Aitken at info@zip.org.nz, providing your name and a contact phone number.

Applications close at 5:00pm on Monday 2 December 2018. To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to Susannah Aitken at info@zip.org.nz, quoting 'Michael Taylor Conservation Internship' in the subject header.

Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme – November 2018

Update on Perth River Valley Work Programme – November 2018

In August this year we reported that the aerial predator removal phase of our programme of work in the Perth River valley had been delayed, because weather and snow conditions (experienced and forecast) had reduced our ability to fully implement the ‘1080 to Zero’ method to completely remove possums (and potentially rats). The aerial operation was originally scheduled to be carried out during winter 2018, but we now intend to carry out this work from March 2019.

The decision to delay  this operation provided us with an opportunity to continue to develop and build confidence in strategies to (i) minimise potential risks to kea from the removal operation, and (ii) completely remove possums and rats, and prevent them re-establishing in the area.

ZIP is hiring! GIS and Data Analyst wanted

ZIP is hiring! GIS and Data Analyst wanted

ZIP is seeking a permanent, full-time GIS and Data Analyst to join our team in Karori, Wellington.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to Susannah Aitken at info@zip.org.nz, quoting 'GIS and Data Analyst Vacancy' in the subject header, by 5:00pm on Wednesday 22 August.

Further Update on Perth River Valley Project – possum removal operation

Further Update on Perth River Valley Project – possum removal operation

Zero Invasive Predators Ltd (ZIP) will undertake the aerial 1080 predator removal phase of the research and development programme in the Perth River valley from early 2019.

This phase was originally scheduled to be completed during winter 2018, but the forecast weather and snow conditions in the valley are such that we now cannot be confident that the 1080 to Zero method can be fully implemented in a timely fashion, in order to completely remove introduced predators. After consulting with our colleagues from the Department of Conservation it was decided to carry out the aerial phase from early 2019, in order to increase the likelihood of its success.

Update on Perth River Valley Project – possum removal operation

Update on Perth River Valley Project – possum removal operation

Zero Invasive Predators Ltd (ZIP) has received permission from the Department of Conservation (DOC) to proceed with the aerial 1080 phase of our programme of research and development in the Perth River valley, but weather and other conditions currently prevent the operation going ahead for the foreseeable future.

Read more…

Update on Perth River Valley Project – opportunities to reduce risk to kea

Update on Perth River Valley Project – opportunities to reduce risk to kea

Zero Invasive Predators Ltd (ZIP), with the support of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Predator Free 2050 Limited, is currently undertaking a programme of research and development work in the Perth River valley on the West Coast of the South Island.

The purpose of the work is to test and refine an approach to completely remove possums from large areas and prevent them from re-establishing, and to develop this approach for ship rats and stoats. We call the approach ‘Remove and Protect’. This is the first time such an attempt has been made on the New Zealand mainland. The results are expected to help enable New Zealand to achieve predator-free status by 2050.

The Perth River research area contains kea, which is a nationally endangered species. The purpose of this Update is to outline two new measures that we are progressing to mitigate potential impacts on kea of the work underway in the Perth River research area. 

Update on Perth Valley Project - results of pre-operational monitoring

Update on Perth Valley Project - results of pre-operational monitoring

Preparations continue for implementation of our ‘1080 to Zero’ operation in the Perth River Valley, South Westland. The objective of this operation is to completely remove possums (and potentially ship rats). The operation is also expected to have a substantial effect on the local stoat population; however, to what extent remains unknown.  In order to evaluate the success (or otherwise) of our operation, we need to have an understanding of relative abundance of these target species in the site pre-operation. So, at the end of March and early April, we undertook to measure the relative abundance of possums, rats, and stoats within our project area.

The Perth Valley Project - what is it all about?

The Perth Valley Project - what is it all about?

Earlier this month we worked with West Coast Film to produce a short video about our current programme of work within the Perth River Valley, which aims to completely remove possums (and potentially rats) from a 12,000 hectare site - and keep them out, forever.

Update on Perth Valley Project - May 2018

Update on Perth Valley Project - May 2018

In January we reported that Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP), in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Predator Free 2050 Limited, had started a new research programme in a 12,000 hectare area within the Perth Valley (South Westland).

The programme aims to develop an approach to completely remove possums from large areas and to prevent them from re-establishing. Possums are the initial focus of the research, but the programme will also seek to develop the approach for ship rats and stoats.

Perth Project and 2018 Tahr Hunting Season - Adams Wilderness Area - Updated 2/03/2018

Perth Project and 2018 Tahr Hunting Season - Adams Wilderness Area - Updated 2/03/2018

ZIP, in collaboration with DOC and Predator Free 2050 Ltd, has begun work on a research programme within the Perth Valley (South Westland) to test and refine an approach to completely remove possums from large areas, and prevent them re-establishing.

The 'Q&A' document and map linked below contain further information about how this work may overlap with this season’s tahr hunting experience in the Adams Wilderness Area.

The Department of Conservation is liaising with parties who hold balloted tahr hunting areas for the 2018 season that fall within the research area.

We will update the Q&A document in response to any further questions.

Perth Project and Tahr Hunting Q&A - Updated 2/03/2018

Map of Perth Valley Predator Treatment Area, Huts and Bivvies

Field rangers wanted!

Field rangers wanted!

ZIP is looking for permanent and fixed-term (i.e. March-September 2018) field rangers to join our teams in Queen Charlotte Sound and South Westland.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to info@zip.org.nz, quoting 'ZIP Ranger Vacancy' in the subject header, by 5:00pm on Wednesday 14 March 2018. Along with your application, please advise your preferred location, and whether you are applying for a permanent or fixed-term position.

Read more...

Possum, Rat and Stoat Removal Research in South Westland - 26/01/2018

Possum, Rat and Stoat Removal Research in South Westland - 26/01/2018

ZIP is beginning work on a research programme at a 12,000 hectare block within the Perth Valley (South Westland), to test and refine an approach to completely remove possums from large areas, and prevent them from re-establishing. The research programme will also seek to develop this predator management approach for ship rats and stoats.

If successful, the approach will have significant beneficial outcomes for native plants and animals in the valley. It could also negate the need for the repeated use of landscape-scale aerial 1080 to control these predators here and elsewhere in New Zealand, and help pave the way for a predator-free New Zealand.

Read more...

ZIP is seeking expressions of interest for three new ranger positions

ZIP is seeking expressions of interest for three new ranger positions

ZIP is seeking expressions of interest for three fixed-term ranger positions, for a potential field trial in South Westland, beginning in early December 2017.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to info@zip.org.nz, quoting 'Ranger Vacancy South Westland' in the subject header.

Expressions of interest close at 5:00pm on Monday 6 November 2017.

Fact Sheet on ZIP trial in South Westland

Fact Sheet on ZIP trial in South Westland

ZIP and the Department of Conservation are investigating a method to completely remove possums, and potentially rats, from mainland sites.

If successful, this method of aerial predator control will reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the need for repeated wide scale application of toxins to remove predators; and provide a tool for progressing New Zealand towards its Predator Free 2050 goal.

The attached Fact Sheet contains information and context about the proposed trial.